The University Grants Commission (UGC) has introduced new draft guidelines that consist of the eligibility for grants from the Centre to make participation in NAAC or NBA programs, NIRF ranking, and the fulfillment of 75% of sanctioned teaching positions. If approved, these guidelines, titled “UGC (Fitness of Colleges for Receiving Grants) Rules, 2024,” will replace the 1975 UGC guidelines applicable to all institutions recognized by the commission.
The proposed rules, in alignment with the National Education Policy 2020, will apply to every college affiliated with universities established under a central or state act, as outlined in Section 2(f) of the UGC Act, 1956. Seeking public feedback, the UGC has set a deadline of March 4, 2024, for comments on the draft policy.
To ensure quality standards across all institutions, the UGC mandates that colleges must be listed under Section 2(f), enabling the implementation of statutory rules and holding colleges accountable to the UGC. The draft policy opens the door for these colleges to obtain a 12(B) status, making them eligible for grants from the UGC, Centre, and other funding agencies for diverse academic and research activities. It’s important to note that the 12(B) status only renders colleges eligible for funding.
The current guidelines focus solely on general categories; institutions that offer programs up to a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, or provide diploma courses lasting at least one academic year, were considered eligible for funding from the Centre. The upcoming guidelines will broaden the eligibility criteria extending beyond offering courses and their durations to qualify for receiving grants.
The UGC suggests that universities must possess accreditation from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), the primary body for evaluating higher education institutions. Alternatively, if a college offers more than three programs, it should have at least 60% of them accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), another statutory body assessing the qualitative competence of programs. For colleges offering fewer than three programs, each eligible program must have accreditation, according to the guidelines.
If educational institutes lack accreditation from both NAAC and NBA, they must achieve a minimum ranking in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) by participating at least five times and securing a rank at least thrice, or participating thrice and securing a rank at least twice.
According to the draft, eligibility requires colleges to not only charge a reasonable fee set by the Central or state government but also refrain from imposing capitation fees or any unauthorized fees. To be considered for grants, colleges must submit a certificate endorsed by the university as proof of credibility to receive funding.